Seven mass media
The seven mass media, or often used as "seventh mass media channel", to draw attention to the latest mobile phones as a mass medium, are a new concept and neoliberalism to distinguish the major mass media channels and highlight their relative merits and benefits. The seven mass media categorization has emerged soon after mobile phones were recognized as a new and unique mass media channel. The strongest proponents of the seven mass media taxonomy tend to be companies closely involved in mobile telephony.
The seven mass media in order of their introduction are:
- Print (books, pamphlets, newspapers, magazines, etc.) from the late 15th century
- Recordings (gramophone records, magnetic tapes, cassettes, cartridges, CDs, DVDs) from the late 19th century
- Cinema from about 1900
- Radio from about 1910
- Television from about 1950
- Internet from about 1990
- Mobile phones from about 2000
Each mass medium has its own content types, its own creative artists and technicians, and its own business model. The sixth and seventh media, internet and mobile, are often called collectively as digital media; and the fourth and fifth, radio and TV, as broadcast media.
Emergence of mobile as a media channel
While mobile telecommunication networks started out as communication networks from 1979 using voice and 1993 using SMS text messaging, mobile became a media delivery and consumption platform in 1998 when Radiolinja in Finland offered the first downloadable content, ringing tones. Three years later, in Japan, J-Phone (now Softbank) expanded the media experience by adding the ability for users to create media content, when they launched cameraphones. Today. many leading mobile media providers such as SeeMeTV, Itsmy, Cyworld and Blyk, rely on user-generated content forming part of the content. In 2006, author Tomi Ahonen coined the term "Seventh of the Mass Media" to explain why services on mobile need not be copies of internet or TV content. He initially identified four unique benefits of mobile. In 2007 the UK based engagement advertising company SMLXL released the first White Paper to discuss the seventh mass media channel and identified six distinct benefits unique to mobile as a medium. Today seven unique benefits of mobile have been identified.
Unique benefits of mobile as a media channel
Mobile offers benefits that cannot be replicated by the six legacy mass media. They are:
- Mobile is the first personal mass media
- Mobile is permanently carried
- Mobile is always on
- Mobile has a built-in payment mechanism
- Mobile is available at the point of creative inspiration
- Mobile has the most accurate audience measurement
- Mobile captures the social context of media consumption
- Mobile offers a digital interface to the real world
Many may claim that the internet offers some of the benefits (personal, payment, audience accuracy and social context). The internet in its native form cannot handle money or payments, and requires alternative methods such as PayPal accounts and using credit cards. On mobile payments can be enabled on the click, such as with downloading ringing tones.
The internet promised full accuracy of users, but with firewalls, deleting cookies and false web identities, there is no accuracy of audience on the internet. On modern mobile networks every user is uniquely known and even if they attempt to hide behind "pre-paid" (pay-as-you-go) accounts under a false identity, the true identity of that given phone and its phone number, and any media consumed on it, is fully known and accurately tracked on the network. The same allows the capture of social context, not possible across internet services, only possible within a given internet service like Amazon. On mobile networks, if the operator/carrier decides to track it, all social context information can be captured.
Mobile devices as media reception and transmission devices
As a digital system similar in fundamental design to a computer, mobile devices are, since the 1990s, able to both receive and send digital signals from a wide geographic range of reception, and can do so either through the usage of data plans provided by phone companies or, if available, through local Wi-Fi connectivity to the Internet. Those devices which can separately handle both Internet and phone network connectivity are known as smartphones; other mobile devices exist which primarily serve to store various media forms rather than communicate over a network but can also connect to the Internet and make use of Internet-dependent applications.
Ringtones are also popular for mobile phone devices, and are distributed primarily through third-party companies for usage in conjunction with phone network providers.
The seventh mass media channel (mobile) is often also called the fourth screen (or third screen) with Cinema the first, TV second and PC the third screens of life; or with the third screen TV and PC the first and second "personal" screens and mobile the third. There is strong synergy with the four screens concept but these look only at multimedia/moving image video content. The seven mass media taxonomy allows comparisons and contrasts also with mass media that do not feature moving images, i.e. radio, (many) recordings and print. The four screens concept is for example strongly promoted by Nokia in explaining the unique abilities of mobile compares with personal computers, television and the movies.
The term fourth screen originates in reference to the actual historical sequence in the development of video screens. With the rapid proliferation of video networks in non-traditional spots such as movie theaters, bars and restaurants, gas stations, health clubs, and other place-based venues a category entitled "fourth screen" was created. The first three screens are considered: TV, Internet, and Mobile. The fourth screen is mainly used in the advertising and media space with the explanation and use of digital signage. With the proliferation of technology, digital signage has expanded in this "fourth screen" section to include movie theaters, gas stations and health clubs. One of the leading digital signage companies in movie theaters is Screenvision, with over 14,400 screens in the US. Another leader in the "fourth screen" marketplace is GSTV which generates over 32 million digital signage impressions every month. In a recent Nielsen "Fourth Screen" Market report, Nielsen identifies that the digital screens in the "fourth screen" category generated over 237 million monthly exposures to persons 18+years or older. They go on to outline the various companies that are leaders in the space that include screenvision, NCM, Capitvate, GSTV and IndoorDirect. Nielsen’s “Fourth Screen Network Audience Report” enables direct comparisons between digital place-based video networks and other video networks, including TV and Internet.
In the Developing World the mobile is increasingly called the first screen and first media, as the penetration rates of mobile phones far exceed those of personal computers, internet access and television.
Mobile devices and the web
As mobile devices have been popularized since the 1990s and wireless phone network coverage and Internet connectivity have spread to multinational reaches since the 2000s, so have the variety of media forms which are accessible to mobile devices. However, because mobile devices have achieved a wider degree of connectivity to the Internet and similar graphical display capabilities as personal computers, the concern over display of the World Wide Web on mobile device interfaces has become a larger concern over accessibility of mobile devices to Internet-borne formats which have not been initially designed for access with the mobile device interfaces of the late 2000s.
As a result, various standards to ease the gap between the World Wide Web and the mobile devices which access it are, or have been, developed and pushed by corporate bodies.
The first document to discuss mobile as the 7th of the mass media was Tomi Ahonen's "Thought Piece" on the subject in 2006. The first White Paper to discuss the topic was SMLXL's White Paper on the Seventh Mass Media authored by Alan Moore in 2007. The first books to include the seven mass media taxonomy were Digital Korea by Ahonen & O'Reilly in 2007, Mobile Advertising by Sharma, Herzog and Melfi in 2008, and the Tanla Mobile Marketing Guide 2008 (edited by Helen Keegan). The first book to focus on the seventh media concept, is Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media by Tomi Ahonen in 2008. The first university course devoted to the topic occurred at Oxford University in December 2008.